As I walked into the growing crowd, I had an immediate sense of “these are my people.” The occasion was to celebrate the life of my uncle who, after 90 full years, went on to God’s greater glory in January. Aunts, uncles, a whole herd of cousins, and a good number of their offspring had gathered on this glorious Sunday afternoon as a family, to give thanks for Uncle Norm.
Five hours later as I was driving away, I was filled with a deep sense of appreciation. I was grateful not only for the time spent with multiple generations of my family, but just for the fact that I have such a strong connection to my family. I felt truly blessed by the bond that was created by growing up with my siblings, while surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And I was also feeling really thankful that time and distance have not diminished the family bond that, with each generation, just keeps blessing us with spouses and more kids.
To that end, I feel doubly blessed that I was, nearly 30 years ago, welcomed into Staci’s family. A cadre of characters who, from the beginning, wrapped their loving family arms around me as their own. And while I have not been connected to these folks for as long as I have been to my family of origin, it is frankly hard to remember when I was not a part of this family.
I did not choose these family circles; one I was born into, and the other I married into. And I am truly grateful for both. I am also part of another family that I did choose to be a part of – the Church, the body of Christ, the family of God. And I am just as grateful for that family as well. Like my biological family, my Church family has been with me my entire life. Like both my other families, my Church family is multigenerational and ever-increasing. Whether I am part of a gathering at one of our faith communities in ECMN, or at General Convention, inevitably I feel an immediate sense of “these are my people!”
Family that is manifested, however, is one of the greatest gifts from God. I am truly grateful for all those who are family to me, and I look forward to every one of those families welcoming more and more folks to be a part of them!